One child asked me if it was a sin for her, because her parents wouldn’t drive her to Mass one Sunday. She asked them, but they only made excuses, such as there wasn’t enough time. She considered riding her bike, but the wind and rain made it impossible.
I’ve heard several children say they ask their parents why they only attend Mass on the holidays. The child wants to go to Mass every Sunday, but they tell her they go at Easter and Christmas. Parents also tell their child that he already goes to Mass during the week days for school or the child attends CCD once a week for their religious education.
Over the years, I have mistakenly believed that most families, especially those who have children in a Catholic school or religious education program, go to Sunday Mass together. Statistics alone show me that I’m wrong about this.
I’ll admit I found it difficult to write about this topic to encourage parents to take their child to Mass. I am not judging, or wanting parents to feel guilty about yet another thing they should do – we all have enough stress in our lives. As a busy parent myself, however, I have learned to set priorities and to keep commitments to the things we value most, including our faith life.
Going to church on the weekend as a family is just that – a priority and a commitment. In my early married years, my Dad told me that if I couldn’t keep a simple commitment to attend Mass one hour a week, I wouldn’t be able to keep my other more complex commitments as a wife and a mother.
Parents have a wonderful opportunity to be a strong role model in their child’s life by being committed to one hour a week to attend Mass as a family. This will show your child what a life of commitment is about. It improves the chances that your child will grow up to keep their promises – as a student, as a friend, as a husband or wife, a single person, or to a life of religious vocation.
In our family, I make it a point to tell my children that going to Sunday Mass is the most important thing that we do together all week. (I see the dramatic eye rolling and hear sighing some times.) We make the time to attend our daughters’ athletic and artistic activities – and we make the time to attend Mass. We’re active like most other families: The work week often runs into the weekend, which often becomes a time to catch up and get ready for another week ahead.
But attending Mass is the most important thing we do together as a family every week. I pray that it never becomes something we do in a hurry “to get it over with.” As a lifelong Catholic, I totally understand that it’s easy to take Mass for granted. It’s easy to go blind and numb to the beautiful Mass, a precious hour when Christ’s Real Presence is there for you and your family. My faith life has been filled with doubts, but I always come back to the comfort and joy I can only find during the Mass and receiving the sacraments. I want my children to have that solid foundation, that chance to go to Mass and to discover their own journey of faith.
Going to Mass together offers families a peaceful time to pray in one place together, rather than running in different directions like most of us during the week. Isn’t it nice to hold hands during the “Our Father,” and then soon after say “peace be with you” to your family and neighbors? Peace. It’s what we desire for our lives, and you can find it during Mass. Your child is looking for this peace, too, and that’s one reason he asks you to take him to Mass. Kids have a lot of pressure on them today. Give them a chance to find their place of peace – and church is a good place to find it, rather than out on the streets with their friends or strangers.
Our family life isn’t perfect. That’s why we make it a priority to attend Mass. We make mistakes, and we struggle with problems. Our daughters have been like other siblings and can sometimes be seen elbowing each other during Mass. But in Mass, we’re together and we know we’re in this game of life together as a team. I humbly ask for God’s help with the responsibilities and privileges He gives to me as a wife and mother. Take your child to Mass to give him that chance to ask for God’s help and to receive nourishment and strength from His Body and His Blood for the week ahead.
In conclusion, it’s a special obligation to take your child to Mass every week. My husband and I made that promise at our daughters’ baptisms – to raise them in the Catholic faith. A big part of that is honoring the Third Commandment “to keep holy the Sabbath.” The priest told us at our first daughter’s baptism, “You are responsible for her soul.” Those words made a huge impact on my heart. I never forgot about it again with both children. The best way I know how to take care of their souls is to bring them to Mass every single Sunday, including the summer months. Go to www.masstimes.org to find a Mass anywhere in the world your family may be traveling to this season.
Copyright 2012 Kimberly K. Seidel